My Thesis Project Initial Idea

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Jan 072013

Project Title:
Teachers Assistant
An interactive site that enables educators to find schemes of work, lesson plans and resources for a specific unit and allow them to add more to improve the quality. (137/140 Characters).
Elevator Pitch:
This is a site that through Collaborative sharing and focus on best practice teachers can share and access any exam board unit and resources and documentation needed for class. This site will be designed to allow the generation of lesson plans instantly through the click of a button, which runs a query to access the information from a scheme of work that has been entered on to the system. Members to the site will be able to select from a range of sector areas, members will also be able to create on screen schemes of work and upload resources to specific weeks topics. (103/140 Words).
Target Group:
The Problem:
The education sector is one that currently is experiencing dramatic changes throughout all levels, from pre-school to university. These changes continue to keep educators on their toe’s in that they are required to have at their disposal resources and knowledge that in turn will be made available to the learners to allow them to understand themselves and for them to meet unit learning aims and objectives along with other assessment requirements. These materials are becoming harder to find, even when using the Internet and libraries. Which ultimately results in the teachers using planning time to create and manufacture resources to enable this learning.
However as mentioned earlier the changes in education is creating more and more paperwork, meetings, and more importantly taking time away from the educators to create these resources. Additional to these changes created by government policy changes are the “shelf Life” of qualifications, these are determined my OFQUAL (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation). The standard life of a set qualification is approximately 4 years as an average.
This problem leads the educators to create these materials in their own time, in the evenings and weekends at home. The problem here is people can get protective of these home made resources and are less likely to share them, even amongst colleagues and office friends.
Adding Value:
It is intended by the creation of this site that educators are enabled to create enhanced SOW’s and resources by simply building upon the ones made available on the site, and though doing this the time factor of creating and sourcing material will be reduced allowing for the educators to deliver Outstanding grade lessons based on the OFSTED (The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) common inspection framework (CIF) Guidelines.
It is intended that this site create a small revenue stream to enable coverage of costs associated to its running and upkeep. The site could look to a free trial subscription that allows access to restricted units and associated resources, and paid subscriptions that offers a user specific sectors, i.e ICT, Health and Social Care or a full access subscription that allows all access pass.
I would like to incorporate anyone that uses the system to be able to create a custom layout of the information stored in the database, this would enable the user to create a theme that is consistent to that of the organisation that they may work for.
Unique Selling Point (USP):
From initial research made there appears to be no site that offers a service like the proposed project stated here. This Site will enable the creation, submission of Schemes of Work (SOW’s) that are detailed and include resources for a specific unit, within a given qualification.
Legal Considerations:
Further research is required around the Intellectual Property (IP) of any works submitted and also the copywriting of any materials that are part of the submissions made.
Non Cognate Websites: – This is a large scale resource sharing, teacher related site, the site offers information regarding the available jobs in the sector additional to the teacher forums for discussions, however this site doesn’t link to specific qualifications and the resources are general. – This is a site that offers resources for keystage’s 3- 5 specific to ICT. This site offers material that can be used as supplementary material to main resources, again there are no links to specific qualification units.

Sponsored Links – Extended Blog

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Mar 312012

Sponsored Links



“A keyword advertising system in which ads appear as “sponsored links” on the Google results pages as well as the results pages of Google’s partners, such as AOL and The advertiser chooses keywords and a short one- or two-line text ad, which is displayed on the results pages when the ad keywords match up with the search keywords”


The Beginnings and the History, Google,


1998 – Google was born, originally named as “Backrub” Google was created by two students from Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.


2000 – Google introduces AdWords, keeping in the trend of others like ASK by listing them in the right hand side under the banner of “Sponsored Links”


2008 – Google started to factor in the loading times of the main landing pages of those ads/links that appeared in the searches. The over all quality score of the ad/link also influenced the position of the ads/links on the Google pages in addition to the calculation of the keywords minimum bid.


2010 – Google Renames the “Sponsored Links” to “Ads” it is rumored that this change from Sponsored to Ad’s increased the CTR (click through rates) by approximately 11.4 % – Monday, November 15th, 2010 by Alec Green

2010 – Google’s total revenue from AdWords was rumored to be in the region of 28 Billion US Dollars (“Financial Tables”. Google Investor Relations. Retrieved 2008-01-31.


How It Works

Google’s search engine works on the criteria that the user query’s it with, these search criteria will generate what Google call “MOMMENTS OF RELEVENCE”


The Google Adwords service allows webmasters to search for keywords that will enable the products, services or sites to appear in the sponsored links/ads sections. Google provide a simple web based program that will help and enable webmasters to find keywords or phrases with very little difficulty in order to find the keywords that will increase the sites exposure.


Considering the keyword choice is a factor that can improve the quality scoring of a site, which in turn can reduce the costs of the adverts.


The Auction.

Google uses a system to display Sponsored Links/Ads, this operates similarly to an auction, the sponsored links that are due to be served up to the user searching, are entered in to a bidding process where a number of factors are taken in to consideration, the primary one is based up what known as a quality score.  Some of the criteria that affect the quality score are, The relevance of the advertisement to the search criteria, i.e. Hats on a search for Cakes shaped like hats, The relevance of the keywords to the Sponsored Link/Ad, the relevance to the landing page to its Sponsored Link/Ad, historical Pay Per Click (PPC) Click Through Rate (CTR) of the Sponsored Link/Ad.

Figure 1. Google Auction cycle,


The Costs of Poor Keywords in Quality Scores.

The cost to company’s that use a poor keyword strategy is that they could find that the quality score that they receive is very poor. An example of poor keyword selection would be along the lines of the following, A Cake shop that wants to sell cakes used the keyword “Cakes” isn’t going to do very well, however if the webmaster was to use “Popping Candy Christening Cakes” this would. If this Sponsored link/Ad was to appear in the top of the page the person is more likely to click on this as it is more specific to their search and because of this it could convert to a purchase.



Google Recommendations

  1. Use keywords 2-3 words long, – try not to be too specific,
  2. Use negative keywords, – don’t include the ad if some one was to include the word cheep
  3. Use the Keyword tool – the free tool provided by Google.

What’s the Cost?

How much will it cost, who gets paid! It is important for the Webmaster to understand the costs per click (CPC) made on any sponsored link/ad that is displayed and clicked on as this is what is going to cost the owner of the site actual cash. The Owner of the site is able to set the levels in what they are prepared to pay for every click through that is made, this can be set through the Google Adwords account that the webmaster and owner has access to.

The CPC option available allows the Webmaster to enter a “Maximum CPC bid” this is representative of the highest amount that will ever be paid for a click through made.

Google’s Helping Hand

The associated cost implications for the PPC (Pay Per Click) can be a deterrent to some small business, however Google are very helpful and offer to people/companies the sign up a £60.00 credit in their account to try the system out.

The Final Result

Once the auctions have been won


Organic Links Vs. Sponsored Links

What are Organic Links? Why use Sponsored Links over Organic? The previous questions are what most people new to optimizing their web performance results ask.

The organic listings are based around the content and use of keywords related and contained within the content, the uniqueness of the content, the frequency of update’s made to the information on the site, the number of inward bound links to the site.

Obviously this takes time for a new site to achieve and therefore move up the listing on a search engine, especially Google. Over time, yes this is very important top achieve but for a new site it is harder, especially when establishing the inward bound links between sites.

The cost of the organic listings are low as this is more about time invested rather than actual pounds shillings and pence, whereas sponsored listing are


Yahoo Sponsored Links

Yahoo like Google offers the facility of having a sponsored link. Yahoo operate a very similar system of displaying the ads/links to the visiting/searching user but with one difference, Yahoo use three areas of displaying sponsored links and ads this is spaced above the organic listings (similar to Google) to the right of the organic listings (again similar to Google), but however Yahoo unlike Google place sponsored links and ads at the bottom of the organically listed results. This increases the opportunity for the company’s that have used the service to be displayed on the results pages. However this could lead to a negative result as this will mean that there is more competition on the sponsored results and organic results. This would also mean that the webmaster on implementing this service would need to carefully select “Killer Key Words” to enable the pages to be listed often to give a more substantial chance of receiving a click through.


Yahoo’s steps for creating a sponsored link is as follows, (as recommended in the instructional video supplied by yahoo)

  1. Selection of “Highly Relevant Key Words” to the site.
  2. Creation of the ad which consists of a Title, Description (this is a short description that best matches the company’s products and services) and finally the URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
  3. Set the price for the ad, this is the PPC amount, which is the maximum that the Webmaster is prepared to pay.

As with Google, Yahoo do not charge the owners of the sponsored ads if they are displayed on the results pages of some one searching for a particular item, they only get charged if the user clicks on the ad.


Not Just Yahoo!

The service supplied by Yahoo doesn’t just relate to Yahoo! Yahoo are in partnership with Bing and other search engine, this enables the Webmaster and the client the ability to cover a number of popular search engines and services that are used.

How It Works

As mentioned before the Yahoo system uses ad’s that comprise of, Title, Description and Url, and these are served to the person searching based on the keywords used in their search. However the ad that is served can change from time to time as the web master can create “ad groups” the Webmaster can create upto 20 unique ads that meet the guidelines, these ads will then be rotated for the keywords that related to that ad group. One option available to the Webmaster is that the most successful ad from the group be displayed more oftern. Another option availble is that the bidded keyword that featured in the users search criteria be dynamically insterted in to the ad that is dispayed, in its title and or description.

Not as Clear as It Seems

Yahoo’s pages relating to the sponsord links are not very intelegable for any prospective Webmaster or client, this could be inpart due to the colaboration between Microsoft and Yahoo and the links between the systems. After doing some searching it appears that you have to sign up through Microsoft, once registered the screen below is presented to the Webmaster.



This is very similar to that of the Google dashboard allowing the user to create their own campaigns and use tools to search and test keyword popularity.

And again, as with Google, Yahoo allow the Webmaster to set their own budget requirements for each ad and campaign.



To evaluate the Sponsored link/Ad topic, these systems will enable the client/organization to market themselves and their company through the strategic selection of keywords relating to their product and services and connecting these to created ads and sponsored links that will be positioned on search engine results pages.


Though this system small and new business’s can improve their corporate presence on  the internet and increase their market brands to new and potential customers and suppliers.

There are many systems available, such as Google Adwords and Yahoo’s Sponsored Search, both offering similar schemes but with some differences. It would be suggested that to raise an organizations image and brand that the Webmaster would use both these systems as this would cover a extremely wide range of individuals that use these search engines, as they are in the top 5 of those used.


 Posted by at 11:46 am

Website Planning – Week 1 – What i Learned

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Mar 072012

Website Planning.

What I Learnt this week.

Week 1


This is a very powerful little document, the .htaccess file resides in the root of the site and allows the web master the ability to do a number of thing.

  1. DocmuentError

This allows the webmaster to set personable webpages for internal page errors, this can be a page not found error, this is when a user visits the site a either navigates to a page that doesn’t exist or types a page location in the URL that also doesn’t exist, this could be down to a user typo. The document that would be generated in this instance would be a 404 page error.

These 404 pages if not created will generate a standard error page which could deter the visitor to the site and make them leave altogether, it is possible to create your own 404 page and customise these to make them look like the site and include links to enable them to navigate their way back on to the beaten path. It is important when creating these pages the remember Ockham’s razor by only giving a few options that will not leave the user overwhelmed.

“DocumentError 404 /errors/404.html”

401 = Authentication error, – it is possible to add a password to a folder in the site root or any folder, this will enable the webmaster to password protect folders that could include, PHP includes, cgi-bin’s and developmental sites. To protect a folder the following code would need to be included within the .htaccess file.

“AuthName “This is a Name that would be displayed on the dialogue box”

AuthType Basic

AuthUserFile /home/.htpasswords/.htpasswd

Require valid-user”


  1. Document Redirects

301, this redirect code corresponds to the permanent redirection of users/bots to new directorys or files. This is powerful as with all websites changing it may mean that a new folder has been created that contains new files, but, the information in the old folder maybe being refered to by othersites so removing this could cause issues with inwardbound links so including the redirect in the .htaccess any person or bot that is looking for the old version of the pages would be moved to the relevant file/folder. The Permanent redirection means a lot to SEO as the web crawlers will know that this is the path that should be used, the old folder can be avoided by including it in the robots.txt file.

302, this version of the redirect indicate that this is a temporay redirection and this also is read by crawlers that this is tempory and that it should not be indexed.


  1. URL ReWrite, www. or not www. That is the question! Sites that have and are referenced by search engines as duplicate information and can be looked upon in  a negative way, this is also true of multiple top level domains TLD’s i.e, .net, .org these all will point to the same site however these will appear as duplicates of information, this is easily solved by adding the following lines to the .htaccess file

“RewriteEngine On



This issue is also known as Canonicalization.


  1. Hot linking

This is where others use the bandwidth of others to serve up images, CSS and or other files on their sites, this can be stopped by again including some lines of code in the .htaccess file. This will look at the request and if not from within the domain it will redirect the user. The below code is used to do this.

“RewriteEngine on



RewriteRule.(gif|jpg|js|css)$ [R,L]”


The code lines above will server the user with an image of an angry man if they try to hotlink.



The htpasswd file is the document that the .htaccess AuthUserFile points to, within this document is the information relating to the user name a password required to gain access to the folder. The username in this document is in unencoded ascii however the password is encoded using the MD5 encryption technique.

There are a number of free online service that will create a .htpasswd document that the webmaster can simply copy the generated file to the root of the site via ftp or simply copy the information and paste it in to the document if it already exists.



This is a file that is called by the browser and will allow the webpage to have an icon listed in the table and head of the browser, this is also good as it will also be used as an icon if a visitor to the site chooses to create a desktop short cut to the site.

To create an .ico file there are a number of software packages that cost around £30.00.



CHMOD, or Change Mode is used on linux servers primarily, this is a way to allow certain access to files and folders, the sections that are available are

Owners permissions = Read, Write , Execute;

Group permissions = Read, Write , Execute;

Public permissions = Read, Write , Execute;

These will have tick boxes attached to them and webmasters will be able to turn them on and off which will generate the following codes below

  1. 644= Default permission setting assigned to files uploaded on the webservers
  2. 777= This is not advised, this allows everybody to execute any files on the server
  3. 666= This will allow the everyone to writeable by all.

These settings can be set to allow installations of CMS and blogs, this will allow the customisation and installation of settings files and upload images and information like avatars if a user wishes to customise there appearance on a blog.



The Sitemap.xls is important as this is looked for by search engine bots and crawlers as this will enable them to gather the structure of the website, this is required by google and what google wants google gets. You cannot simply add this to the root of the site you are required to add this link to google by logging in on the google webmaster tools and submitting it to them.



This file is very useful as this will enable the webmaster to enable bots/crawlers access to set areas on a site, this can also disallow certain areas, this is useful as if a redirect is being used to move a visitor to a new area of the site it may be required to not allow the search engine bots to crawl over the old area so this can be stopped, however not all bots will play by the rules.



A few words for website typography

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Jan 312012

Jesus Rodriguez Velasco -


Jesus Rodriguez Velasco’s website, designed from Miguel Ripoll


This website displays excellent typography which gives the viewer the impression of reading something old, almost medieval. The fonts’ size is large and easy to read. The design of the paragraph mimics this of the old books. In order to add more detail, other features were taken into account too, such as the background color. The first letter’s borderline has curves, something which makes a visual impression of an old typography with ink. Finally, the website’s images aid to this optical illusion giving the “old” feeling as they obviously make a connection with the past.



Andy Rutledge -


The personal website of Andy Rutledge, designed by himself.


The basic typeface in this website is used in different ways. Some text is in bold, some other in italics, some other are capitalized, and some used in normal weight.

There is one another calligraphy typeface used in an elegant way, to add another feeling to the website. Someone may say it is a Hollywood style. This can be obvious with those calligraphic words which are (almost all of them) placed above a star symbol. Also the letters are screened in a way that they look like they are carved onto the screen.

 Posted by at 8:07 pm

Handy Sites

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Jan 162012

I think i actually love this site its full of quality ideas and how too’s!!

 Posted by at 5:34 pm

JQuery playtime +

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Jan 162012

i have been playing around on the internet looking for a chat system like the one that we use on the forums, and i found a few interesting ones that are easy to impliment and others that were absolute pains in the ass!! i started off with the Comet Chat, and i have to say this is my most favored of those that i played with but because of the costs i thought id carry on the search for the freebies!! and i found AJAX IM, which was very interesting as one of the installation requirements was “Node.JS@ which popped up in our day of informative chats,  specificaly the mozilla talk on the APIs that HTML 5 has and is able to impliment and use. i did struggle with this so i have put a pin in this to revist later.

I then found my way on to the simple inclusion of three lines of markup and a little styling and some JQuery i could have the ability to search my pages from the home page and amend the chat window theme, so i went for this option.

All this investigation is semi relevant to an idea that i would like to possibly use as my thesis project next year or as a site for impimentation at work to help my students  on thier course.

The idea is to create a site that my students can upload there web pages to in order to meet the assisment criteria that they have on a BTEC but also to market their abilitys.

And this idea gave birth to

 Posted by at 4:24 pm

Biscuit Recipies Update

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Jan 162012

I have finally managed to impliment the google adsence on to the site!!! I found that i was getting issues regarding “Language” so if you get this you may need to create another google account and register your page from another site that you have done, this worked for me. it is striange because your account gets locked if you have something that google doesnt like.

 Posted by at 4:09 pm

Web over the weeks

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Dec 302011

Web Design through the weeks


I wanted to create an personal reflective review to the unit now we are at the end it and look at the bits and bobs that I learned along the way.


We were first presented with the understanding about design and how we use a tiered structure in order to separate the 3 elements in to their own sections. These 3 areas are,


The Structural layer= the markup (HTML)

The Presentation Layer = Styling (Cascading Style Sheet)

The Behavioural Layer = Actions (JQuery, Java)


Our goal was to separate the structural layer from blending in to the presentation layer.


We then went on to understanding the “Semantic Web”

Semantic Web=”Using Markup to add meaning to content”


We also then reviewed the naming conventions and why we might use these, this was very interesting as I have been using unconventional naming previously.

The way in which Google catalogs the files in which we upload to our host, Google would catalog the following  file (“green_ford_fiesta.jpg”) as only one name “green_ford_fiesta”.


Where as the use of hyphens (“green-ford-fiesta.jpg) instead of the underscores google would catalog the following as “green”,”ford”,”fiesta””green ford fiesta”,”green ford”,”ford fiesta”.


Moving on to the Presentation Layer

<ul> can as a container – think do I need a <div>?

a <ul> will focus on all elements in the container and will allow a minimal css entry.


We then looked at the clear:both option in CSS we found that the way a ul list is layed out if a float left/right selection is not cleared would stager the lists items incorrectly.


By doing a clear:both the markup will look to insert the object be it text/image into a clear area.


We then looked at the use of an alternative style sheet, when using an alternative style sheet you if you don’t want the page to inherit the styles for the other style  sheet if switching between them it needs to be set to none.

Moving on to Images and Colour’s.


We reviewed the 4 most commonly used web format images.

JPEG 24 Bit True Colour

GIF 8 Bit 256 colour (Index Colour Pallet)

PNG 8 Bit 256 colour (Index Colour Pallet)

PNG 24 Bit True Colour


We were then shown an image of an apple that wasn’t sharp and the colour were slightly out from the original.

Dithering is when a 256 colour pallet DOESN’T have enough Colour to put another colour in so it puts another colour in from the pallet it has.


PNG (24) = not lossy

JPEG = lossy

JPEG compression can leave artifacts


Wherever possible be semantic, however at times this isn’t right, i.e. 20 images on a gallery example we need to be “pragmatic”


We were then shown the spite position change, this used 1 image that had 2 images in it, but with a clever bit of CSS the position of an image can allow it to be positioned so the other part of the image is viewable.





When choosing a font you need to think about the user that doesn’t have your font style installed, so an option could be to use a web based font. Google fonts are useful as the font is stored online and the use will pull the font down from google.

Other services available are Font Squirrel this is a free service.

A serif font is difficult to render as the screen resolution. Smaller text will struggle to show the serifs on the font. Serif fonts are used as headings as the serifs will show up.

We looked at the “x” height which looks at the height of the lower case x in any font.

We then looked at the “counter” which is the space inside the letters.


What units do I use?

PX or Pixels = Absolute

Em’s & Percentage = Relative


Page Layouts


12 column grid systems using 960 px

a good method is to set layout using the DIV’s and then rationalize the code and remove where possible.

 Posted by at 11:51 am

Biscuit Critical Review

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Dec 302011

Improvements Made on the Biscuit Project.

During the critical review process of all the designers in my group I found my self constantly saying “that’s a good idea, and so simple” and at times some interesting feedback was given that made me think, hum I did that.

When it came to critically reviewing my project I was give the following bits of advice and suggestions.

Typography – It was suggested that the fonts that were selected weren’t as sympathetic to the design of the overall page.

Navigation colour’s – The original colour of the navigation was mustard yellow, with a darker colour for the hover over.

I decided to remove this navigation and implement another, as the original one appeared “blocky”, so when looking for ideas for navigation I stumbled across a simple hover over tabbed that allowed the user to see that they are hovered over a button. The colour scheme that I decided to use on the navigation and footer bar was intended to be sympathetic to the colour on the tablecloth on the background of the site.

Search results below the fold

Personal Improvements

I would like to implement a recipe of the month on the home page, this would be linked in to a PHP date check that would generate a SQL query on the works Christmas, Easter, Anzac Day and Halloween amongst many others.

A small amount of shadow on the navigation bar giving each tab more definition.

Implement a stylish search bar on the banner of the site.

Create an admin page that will enable the owner of the site to add, update and remove recipes that contributors have added to the site.

Alternative stylesheet, I would like to enable the user to select a style of layout that they would want the look like, the designs would be contemporary decorative fancy elegant fonts and the alternative would be a classic table cloth kitchen recipe book style.

I would like to include a twitter tab with a live feed on the site in the right hand corner. Giving all users the ability to join the community that the site is all about.

 Posted by at 10:02 am

Whats in a Font?

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Dec 302011

Reviews on Fonts and the sites that use them.


The font used on the Nestle Website gives the impression like the chocolate of quality, the heading tags continue to use the joined calligraphy style with the main content using a heavy gold capitalized only font.

I like the main content font this is easy to read and grabs your attention




The Harrods site continues my investigation in to sites with good typography. I have navigated through this site and feel that the fonts used are well suited to the regality of the brand name. The font used for the navigation bar is very strong and clear. The spacing between each of the capital letters and the font used gives each navigation option a presence on the page.

The use of the Serif font on the center caption again brings an element of class a quality to the site.


Gardeners World

The choice of fonts used in the Gardeners World site is bold and shapely. The site uses a san-serif font that is almost bubbly on the navigation area and for the titles of the individual sections the font used give the feel an authentic garden project book that is asking to be read.

Poor Design


UBI Soft

During my search for some Christmas presents I navigated my way on to the UBI Soft website to look at some reviews of the games that are coming out. When in go on to this site I instantly decided that id be using this site as a example of poor font selection.

The text is very much bunched together and the biggest issue I had was that it was extremely small, the advertising is the most eye catching thing and only after a lot of scanning around the site you get to the information that you want and then its hard to read because its small.

The page to the user that it they have navigated on to the Game Listings as this is big and almost imposing on the page. In my opinion this is too large.




On my search for examples of poor use of Fonts I must have been a little pekish as I started looking through fast food sites and came across the KFC site. When I started looking through the site I found that there were areas of text that had a dimond with a question mark on it, clearly the font that was intended for me the visitor wasn’t supporting certain characters. I did start off liking the font usage on this site initially but because of the unfortunate missing characters I had to move it in to my poor example.



I was upset when I thought about using Nandos in this homework, as I expected big things from their site, but I was left disappointed.  This site is very gimmicky one, but on visiting it there is no clear indication of it being the home page of the Nando’s chain as the isn’t any corporate branding, but when it comes to the text and fonts used in the site I was given a similar problem as the UBI soft site, the text is very small, but, this site is using a handwritten font which combined with the small size of the text led to me squinting just to make out what it actually says. On the design side of things the navigation also uses clickable images that are NOT obvious.

 Posted by at 9:43 am